Aung Htu Kan Tha Paya

Pyin Oo Lwin

Finished in March 2000, this dazzling pagoda is by far the region's most impressive religious building. It enshrines an enormous 17-ton white-marble buddha statue that fell off a truck bound for China in April 1997. After several attempts to retrieve the buddha failed, it was decided that the statue 'had decided to stay in Myanmar'.

Eventually cranes were used to yank the statue up the hill, and a dazzling new golden pagoda was built to house it. It's now draped in gilt robes and sits in a temple interior that's an incredible overload of gold. A big festival takes place here in November. The highlight of the event is when locals release huge bamboo and paper hot-air balloons. The pagoda is on a hilltop, just south of the Lashio-bound highway, around 15 minutes' drive beyond Pyin Oo Lwin's vast Defence Services Technological Academy compound.

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